How to Use YouTube in the Classroom | Edutopia
Edutopia on Facebook
Edutopia on Twitter
Edutopia on Google+
Edutopia on Pinterest Follow Me on Pinterest
WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

How to Use YouTube in the Classroom

Educational consultant and former blogger Chris O'Neal demonstrates educational uses for the video-sharing Web site. More to this story. See more educator tech-tool lessons.
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share

Hi, I'm Chris O'Neal, and we're going to do a brief tour of YouTube. I think of YouTube as, like, a giant video flea market. So lots of cool finds mixed in with a lot of crazy junk. From a teacher's standpoint, it's a treasure trove of videos, so let's take a quick tour. We're going to start off by going to, and on the main page, what you'll find is just a variety of most popular clips of the day, the most talked about clip of the week.

Just like you wouldn't set your students free on a field trip, though, without giving them some guidance ahead of time, you probably shouldn't sit students down in front of YouTube, and have them search aimlessly, either. Whatever your thoughts on YouTube may be, it makes the most sense to give age appropriate guidance to your kids. There's certainly a lot to learn from watching YouTube videos. Some of the content is just not appropriate for all ages.

I'm going to start off by doing the most common thing on YouTube, which is just a basic search. I'm going to click here, and type, life cycle, since that's something a lot of teachers look for. What you'll find are thousands of video returns. It tells me right here, 9,400 videos have been uploaded to YouTube, that use the words, life cycle. I got lucky, in that the first clip I click on right here, will start playing automatically. I'm going to pause it, is actually about the life cycle of the lunar moth, so that's perfect for what I'm looking for. You'll find that searching ahead of time is the key to making efficient use of YouTube in the classroom.

So now that I've found a great video I'd like to use, I can either show it right away-- I'm just going to click play, to show the video, or I can embed it to show it in my own website, blog or wiki. If you look to the right of the video, you'll see a brief description of the video, which is provided by the person who uploaded this video. Directly beneath the description is the URL for this video, so I can e-mail this URL to someone else, and let them watch the video. Directly beneath that is an embed section. If I click in that white horizontal bar, I get embed code, which means I can copy that text, and paste it into a wiki or a blog, or website, and actually embed the video directly into my own website.

Beneath this embed code section are a few options you'll want to pay attention to. The first box that says, include related videos, I always uncheck that box. If you don't uncheck that box, and you embed your video, you'll find, to the side, some extra videos that YouTube suggests, which may, or may not be appropriate for what you want to share with your children. So I uncheck this box. I choose a size that I like, and then I click back up in the embed code section, right click, and copy. Now I simply go to my wiki or blog, and paste in that text.

You can create your own account on YouTube which allows you to save favorites. I'm logged in right now. I can look at my videos, my favorites, I can even make playlists. I can subscribe to specific sections of YouTube, specific users or even tag or keywords. I can also be alerted when users I like upload new videos. The newest section to YouTube that I think teachers like, is That's an education section of YouTube, built specifically for educators. The videos uploaded in the section are from universities and school systems. Each of these videos is provided with the notion that they can be of some help to teachers. So the users who create these videos agree that all videos uploaded to this specific section, have education in mind.

Last, but most certainly not least, you can upload your own videos to YouTube. Whether you've shot vacation video footage, or you've even staged a video, because you know it will be helpful to other teachers, it's a great place to share video. Not only do you get to catalogue your own video for your specific classrooms, but other people around the world get to make use of your video as well.

Be sure to visit, for more educational resources.

Get Video
Embed Code Embed Help

You are welcome to embed this video, download it for personal use, or use it in a presentation for a conference, class, workshop, or free online course, so long as a prominent credit or link back to Edutopia is included. If you'd like more detailed information about Edutopia's allowed usages, please see the Licenses section of our Terms of Use.

Produced by Chris O'Neal for

More resources for educators about using online video with your students at "How to Use Online Video in Your Classroom".

Comments (32)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Malaika Costello-Dougherty's picture
Malaika Costello-Dougherty
Former senior editor at Edutopia.

Staff comment:


I'm glad you're discussing this video. Please take a look at this other story, which may answer some of your questions.


Malaika Costello-Dougherty
Senior Editor, Edutopia

Lee Lee's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I was going to recommend TubeTV too! My husband found this tool for me and recently, I used it to convert some YouTube videos for my lesson plans. For other Mac users, note that you could save the YT video files as AVI files so that you could import them onto a PC at work and play it on Windows Media Player. You will have to have the computer tech adjust the screen settings or something like that on the menu bar at the bottom.

Eugene's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I created an educational videotube a while ago.
While looking for some promotion I found this site, so why not let you guys know about my project.
We're a steady growing community searching for more members and specially for knowledge contributors!
Check it out at

Brian's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

What is wrong with you "educators"? You can't use a third party tool or site to convert, steal, rip, or download a video from YouTube. It is in direct violation of 3 items in the YouTube Terms of Service. See and sections 4C, 5B, and 5F.

Lead by example and DO NOT illegally download videos from YouTube!

Julie Phelps's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I found a program that allows you to download videos from You Tube. It is called Save2pc. The free version only allows you to download to your computer, but I use my laptop and that works just fine. If you pay for the upgraded standard version, it allows you to download You Tube, Teacher Tube, God Tube, and others. I THINK this allows you to save the vids to a jump drive or save on a CD, but I cannot remember. The standard version is only $24.95 for a year. Can't beat that!

Paul's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Embedding videos from YouTube is very easy. There are some video up-loaders who will block this feature. casino online

Ted Wells's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Yes, YouTube is a great resource to find information. It is also an amazing canvas for kids to share and express their learning. It is a way for kids to teach the world what they know - and true understanding comes when kids teach!

When working with a class of kids on a video project, break them into teams for different sections. Have them plan out what and how they will proceed. Then let the creativity explode! So many important results: teamwork, engagement, they are drawn to their strengths (but be sure they share responsibilities), the camera and world audience brings out the best in them, school is FUN, they write, draw, act, and create, community is built, real world skills are taught, ... I could go on.

Here is a video that got my class on the Today Show:

And here is an Edutopia article about the CCC project:

Our newest video about the Parthenon:

For all my class YouTube videos, see:

Rhonda Travis's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I love Youtube for foreign language classes. They have great ones for high school.

Suzie Nestico - Mount Carmel Area High School's picture
Anonymous (not verified)


"Embedding" a YouTube video is not converting, stealing, ripping, or downloading a video from YouTube. In fact "embedding" a YouTube video into a wiki is in full compliance with 4C - "You agree not to access User Submissions (defined below) or YouTube Content through any technology or means other than the video playback pages of the Website itself, the YouTube Embeddable Player, or other explicitly authorized means YouTube may designate." When the "embedded" video is displayed on a wiki, it is done so through the 'YouTube Embeddable Player'. Furthermore, as educators, all appropriate citations and credits are noted. It is merely a way of allowing students, who are operating on a highly secure, filtered, network at school, to view a relevant video on YouTube. You see, as 'educators', we have the safety and security of the students in mind in not allowing full access to YouTube.

Now, if one were to use a conversion tool, such as Zamzar, and then export and post the video as their own, then there would be an issue. Embedding a video in the YouTube Embeddable Player format, however, is not.

Brian's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

@Suzie: I never said I had a problem with educators embedding YouTube videos. Where did you get that impression from my comment on June 22? I didn't even use the word "embed" in my comment.

Embed all you want...that's why that function is there. So the videos can be shared using YouTube's technology. If the user wants it to be downloadable, they can provide a link near the video player. If not, you cannot use any third party tool/site/ripper, etc. to extract the video out of YouTube. I don't care if your school blocks YT of not. As an educator, you (not specifically you Suzie) need to let students and others know this. Read the rest of the comments and note all the times someone suggests a tool to extract the video from YT.

Embed the video into a blog, wiki, CMS, etc. where you can see it. VodPod is a great site to use for video collection. Try it.

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.